Moore v. Biter, 742 F.3d 917 (9th Cir. 2014)

By ignoring AEDPA again and using its own “analysis,” the 9th Circuit  has written another case ready for Supreme Court reversal. Moore v. Biter is a California state court case overruled on federal habeas corpus.

Four years ago the Supreme Court disallowed enforcement of capital or LWOP sentences of juveniles in state courts on grounds minors are immature and should be offered an opportunity for rehabilitation when becoming adults. Graham v. Fla., 560 U.S. 48 (2010). Aside from the fact this “opinion” is absurd-18 year old adolescents should know murder is not allowed- a three judge 9th Circuit panel held “multiple term sentences” exceeding the lifetime of juveniles are equivalent to a LWOP sentence, and the penalty unenforceable. The panel cited no precedent.

Here is the opening sentence of the seven dissenting judges in Moore v. Biter denying rehearing of the three judge panel decision.  “Our Court defies AEDPA once again, this time by failing to distinguish a ‘life without parole’ sentence for juveniles from a multiple ‘term of years’ sentence.  A panel of this Court holds that Graham v. Fla., 560 U.S. 48 (2010) invalidates the latter, ignoring the contrary holding of the Sixth Circuit, disregarding the views of state courts across the country, and flouting Graham’s text and reasoning.”

This dissent is a serious charge but one repeatedly made by the Supreme Court in 9th Circuit cases.  The purpose of AEDPA directly condemns the three judge panel opinion that the Supreme  Court case of Graham v. Florida controls this case.  The California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court both held a sentence of multiple terms is not the equivalent of a life term imposed on juveniles in non homicide cases.  Whether the argument can be made that the linguistic difference in sentencing is indistinguishable, an intrepretation the 6th Circuit rejected, the result on federal habeas corpus is not to reinterpret  the rule and overturn state courts, but determine if the law  is “clearly established” Supreme Court law required by AEDPA.  It is not.

Here is the last sentence of the dissenting judges in the case: “Because the panel defies AEDPA, creates a circuit split, and threatens frequent and unjustified intrusions into state sovereignty, I respectfully dissent from our court’s regrettable failure to hear this case.”l

The 9th Circuit merely imposed its own usual ideological bias as though the case was on direct appeal from the district court.  Cert. to the Supreme Court will reverse the 9th Circuit panel.